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It's rare that I do it these days, but there have been a few specific occasions where I completely ignored a game's soundtrack in favor of a single album. It was never for games whose music was highly regarded, but more for games whose soundtracks were not particular groundbreaking or interesting. Because of this, there are a few albums that instantly remind me of very specific video games.
I couldn't tell you why, but for some reason I never gave Crackdown's soundtrack a chance. I had recently ripped Radiohead's Hail to the Thief to my Xbox 360 hard drive, and every single time I booted up the game, including the first time, I started up Hail to the Thief before the game had even completed loading. The disc scratching effect sound of guitar feedback that sets Hail to the Thief in motion will forever summon images of Crackdown's loading screen. Listening to the rest of the album conjures images of homing rockets and throwing cars at thugs. The two couldn't be more dissimilar, but for some reason I will always relate them to one another, and I frequently forget that Crackdown's soundtrack wasn't by Radiohead.
Electronic Arts is pretty good at feeding a plethora of popular and lesser-known bands and music into its racing and sports games, but when it came to Burnout Paradise, all I ever wanted to listen to was Colors by Between the Buried and Me. Colors had released about five months prior to Paradise's release, but it didn't matter. It was still all I was listening to, and it continues to be one of my favorite albums to this day. I would drive around Paradise City looping the album, usually paying more attention to it than the game. I have no idea what sort of music Paradise had, but for me it was Colors, and nothing else.
I was working my way through Golden Sun during a trip to visit family and friends, when Fugazi and End Hits was introduced to me. I was embarrassingly late when it came to discovering their music, but I was totally absorbed when I found them. I remember exploring the world and collecting Djinn, all while my portable CD player's batteries drained away looping End Hits over and over and over. Every time the song five corporations shuffles through on my iPod, I can't help but remember my time in Golden Sun.
Dead Space 2 and Arcade Fire are a little bit different than my previous entries. I didn't actually listen to The Suburbs while I was playing the game. Instead, it served as my soundtrack between my hours on the Sprawl. I would play Dead Space 2, go to sleep, head to work listening to The Suburbs on the way there, sit down at work promptly inserting my earbuds, and look over the assorted achievements and message boards discussing the game. Oh yeah, I guess I would do work, too. Then I would head home, and play some more Dead Space 2. The other reason the two got oddly linked is there are two tracks on The Suburbs called Sprawl I and Sprawl II. For no reason other than my own amusement, I like to think the two songs are about the Sprawl featured in Dead Space 2, the space station where the majority of the game takes place.
To get an idea of the kind of things that make me laugh, listen to the song in the video below, but think about stomping around as Isaac violently killing every monster in sight. It's hilarious. You could also click here if you have no imagination.
There are others albums and video games that will be forever linked in my brain, but I will have to wait until they show up on the shuffle queue on my iPod to open the floodgates of nostalgia.
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